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Starbucks shuffles management, beefs up China/Asia Pacific team

The Verismo single serve home espresso maker is demonstrated during Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Seattle, Washington, March 2
The Verismo single serve home espresso maker is demonstrated during Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Seattle, Washington, March 2

(Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Thursday announced a raft of management changes, including a beefing up of its team for the fast-growing China and Asia Pacific region, where it plans to add about 600 new cafes this year.

The world's biggest coffee chain, which sees China overtaking Canada as its second-largest market in 2014, promoted John Culver to group president of its China and Asia Pacific region, with Jeff Hansberry taking on Culver's former position of president of Starbucks' China and Asia Pacific region.

Hansberry was previously in charge of channel development for consumer packaged goods and emerging brands, responsibility for which will switch to Culver.

Jinlong Wang will become chairman of Starbucks China and senior vice president of business development.

Nearly 3,300 of Starbucks' roughly 18,100 global cafes were in the China and Asia Pacific region when its fiscal year ended on September 30.

Elsewhere, the company promoted Cliff Burrows to group president for the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as its newly acquired Teavana tea retail chain. Burrows previously was president of the Americas region, which includes all Starbucks operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Latin America.

Long-time executive Michelle Gass will return to the United States from Europe this summer to work directly with Chief Executive Howard Schultz. Gass, who was instrumental in the Seattle-based company's U.S. turnaround several years ago, had been president for Starbucks Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Kris Engskov will be promoted to the role of senior vice president and president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

He was previously managing director of Starbucks' UK business, which was caught up in a consumer backlash against legal techniques used by companies to cut their tax bills after Reuters revealed it had booked no profit and paid no tax in Britain for three years, despite telling investors its British arm was profitable.

Starbucks has since bowed to public pressure and is expected to pay about 20 million pounds in British corporation tax over the next two years.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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